The practice of establishing & working within Work-In-Progress (WIP) limits helps to ensure scrum teams are able to deliver on their goals.  Proper WIP limits promote flow & enable self-managing teams to best decide where to focus their efforts.  While the concept of WIP limits is easy to understand, many new scrum teams struggle to establish & work within them - new teams may not realize the risks of not respecting WIP limits until it is too late.  In this workshop, participants will experience gamified learning on how WIP limits can improve scrum by promoting stories to be completed throughout a sprint vs. waiting until the final days.  “Fire Dice” was created as an agile learning game designed to provide new teams a safe environment to learn how to establish & work within WIP limits - “Fire Dice” come into play whereby teams can choose to exceed their WIP limit (using special Dice); however, this comes at a cost, hence players must assess the pros/cons of using Fire Dice.  The workshop and game will also provide participants an opportunity to improve and practice making respectful decisions as a self-managing team.  In this workshop, participants will have FUN by playing “Fire Dice” to experiment with establishing proper WIP limits seeking to improve flow within scrum based activities.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

The intent of this workshop is to provide a quick overview of the Theory of Constraints and explain elements of the theory that are most relevant to helping scrum teams improve flow.  From coaching and training scrum teams, teams that adopt and work within WIP limits reduce risk and are better able to achieve sprint goals.  In my experience, introducing WIP limits on Scrum teams also helps teams wrap up their sprints with less “last minute heroics” - stories are completed and reviewed throughout the sprint vs. waiting until the final day.

This workshop and the game “Fire Dice” were created to allow teams to learn about the Theory of Constraints and WIP limits by experiencing them rather than simply presenting a talk about them.  The game allows for participants to conduct safe experiments, which we will debrief to discuss how the experiments conducted in the game can be applied to real scrum team scenarios.  Participants will also get practice making inclusive and respectful team decisions, as participants will have to decide on a strategy for each round of the game, and then also work to prioritize work during each round of the game seeking to complete work as quickly as possible.

The facilitation of each round of the game will be driven by worksheet where participants will record their sprint goal, note WIP limits established for each stage and then record data during the game as to how much progress was made toward their goal.  Data collected on the workshop will be used to drive the post game debrief.

The 4 phase workshop requires 60 minutes to present and will progress through the following phases.

 

Phase 1 - Presentation - Theory of Constraints and WIP limits - 10 minutes

  • What is the Theory of Constraints
  • What are WIP limits & What Benefits do they provide
  • Share Examples of introducing WIP limits onto Scrum Teams

 

Phase 2 - Activity - Game Play - 30 minutes

  • Game groups / teams are formed at tables
  • “Fire Dice” is a Card & Dice based sim (for conference presentation is it specifically designed to scale well for large groups, and the kinesthetic nature of the game increases engagement in game play enabling greater learning)
  • All teams have a fixed amount of effort (the number of dice they can roll during each round) - all teams will complete their work using the same simulated process steps - teams will be asked for an estimate of the amount of work to be completed each round - teams will be challenged to complete the greatest value of work (determined by the face value of each card that makes it thru the workflow).
  • As work is completed during each sprint/round of the game - teams that are successful will receive the opportunity to invest in “Fire Dice” - “Fire Dice” have special capabilities and can exceed WIP limits within the team’s process; however, using these dice comes at a cost - the “Fire Dice” are intended to all participants to explore the pros/cons of having the ability to exceed WIP limits once they are established.
  • Game play allows for experimentation with starting more work vs. finishing work in progress, if teams finish their allotted work before the end of the sprint/round, they can take on additional work to increase the value of work completed - teams can experiment with setting aggressive goals (which they may not be able to meet vs. setting more realistic goals and then being able to take on more work at the end of the sprint if they have capacity to do so).
  • Game Timing:
    • Game Briefing - Objectives & Rules - 6 minutes
    • Game Round 1 - 8 minutes
    • Game Round 2 - 8 minutes
    • Game Round 3 - 8 minutes
  • Multiple Rounds of the game will be played to allow for experimentation and reflection between rounds - this is needed so as to create the context for the Post-Game Debrief

 

Phase 3 - Discussion - Game Debrief - 15 minutes

Full group discussion based upon what happened during the game - debriefing topics include:

  • Review how accurate teams were in setting achievable sprint/round goals in the game - what went well and what didn’t go well ?
  • Discuss if teams set WIP limits for stages of their workflow and if establishing WIP limits helped teams be more successful in meeting their sprint goals
  • Discuss what criteria and data teams used to establish WIP limits
  • Did the introduction of WIP limits introduce any challenges for teams to overcome
  • Did any teams decide to use “Fire Dice” and if so were the benefits they provided equal to the investment to obtain & use them
  • Were there any experiences during the game that reminded you of challenges on your scrum team?
  • Were there any experiences during the game that you’d like to apply to your scrum team?

 

Phase 4 - Presentation - Conclusion & Questions - 5 minutes

  • Address final questions about the game and/or workshop
  • Thank all for attending

 

Workshop Timing: 60 minutes (can be stretched to 90 minute to allow for more discussion of metrics)

 

Presentation History

Learning Outcome

  • Participants want walk away having learned the benefits that applying Work-In-Progress Limits and the Theory of Constraints to scrum activities.
  • Participants will experience decision criteria and metrics to go about setting and working within proper Work-In-Progress limits for a scrum team.
  • Participants will have a chance to experiment with the challenges of maintaining different classes of service within their process - what are the pros/cons of expediting a story in the long run.
  • Participants will have a chance to improve their collaborative decision making skills when working on self-managing scrum teams.

Target Audience

ScrumMasters, any scrum team member

schedule Submitted 2 years ago

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